May: My visit to Saudi will inspire women in the country

MAY Britannia‘Theresa May has said that her visit to Riyadh today would serve as an example to Saudi Arabia of what women can achieve. The prime minister said she has raised the issue of female rights more than once with the Gulf nation, where women must obtain permission from a male guardian to travel or marry and are banned from driving. Speaking of her first trip to Saudi Arabia as prime minister, Mrs May said that it would help to boost security and trade co-operation between the nations, but added: “I hope also that people see what women can achieve and how women can be in significant positions.” During her visit the prime minister will hold talks with a female minister — one of the few women politicians in Saudi.’ – The Times (£)

  • Labour accuses her of sacrificing human rights in return for trade – The Sun
  • The UK will send military trainers to help Jordan fight ISIS – The Sun
  • Voters are indifferent to the Prime Minister, but at least she isn’t Corbyn – Jimmy Leach, The Times (£)

Brexit committee attacks idea that ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’

‘Theresa May has been urged by MPs to carry out a full economic and legal assessment of what would happen if Britain left the EU without a deal. The Commons Brexit committee said the prime minister’s assertion that “no deal is better than a bad deal” was “unsubstantiated” because the government had not assessed the implications of such an outcome since last year’s referendum. The report’s conclusions were strongly contested by pro-Leave MPs on the committee, however, who claimed it was biased and “too gloomy”. In the end it was backed by a majority of 11 to 6, a split that blunts its political impact.’ – FT

  • This is why Brexiteers walked out rather than back the report – The Times (£)
  • A successful deal rests on Britain being seen to lose – Gideon Rachman, FT
  • Germany says two years is not enough time – The Independent

>Today: Christopher Howarth’s Guide to Brexit: Beneath the rhetoric, the EU27 are being surprisingly constructive


The EU wants citizens who left the UK years ago to be allowed to return (and claim benefits)

Border‘EU citizens who lived in the UK years ago should be allowed to return after Brexit and given access to the benefits system, Brussels will demand. In a move that will frustrate Downing Street’s bid to reduce migrant numbers, officials will say EU migrants who potentially left decades earlier could retain the right to set up home in Britain. Ministers have privately conceded that the 3million EU citizens currently in the UK may be offered concessions in a bid to protect the fate of British expats living elsewhere in Europe.’ – Daily Mail

>Today: ToryDiary: What are your Brexit red lines? Take our monthly survey.

Robinson: There’s no need for BBC balance on Brexit now the referendum is over

‘The BBC should stop worrying about giving equal coverage to both sides of the Brexit debate during the next stages of leaving the European Union, says one of its most senior journalists. Nick Robinson, Today presenter and former political editor, says that the broadcaster’s duty to “broadly balance” the views of the remainers and Brexiteers ended with the referendum last June. He said that those with strong views should stop accusing the BBC of bias, just because they disagree with a point being argued. “There are no longer two sides, two campaigns, two rival sets of spokespeople reading out those focus-grouped slogans,” says Robinson in an article in the Radio Times.’ – The Times (£)

>Yesterday: UKIPWatch: Arron Banks and The Observer have a shared interest in making Brexit all about him

Picardo calls on the Prime Minister to rule out Gibraltar talks with Spain

Gibraltar flag‘He called on the Prime Minister to rule out giving Spain any say in the Rock’s future. Picardo made his plea after May refused to shut the door on possible bilateral talks over Gibraltar during Brexit negotiations. He said: “It’s time for the British government to rule out any bilateral veto for Spain and stand by Gibraltar. “Otherwise Spain will be able to dictate terms to us and that will be totally unfair.”’ – The Sun

May urges witnesses to speak out to catch ‘despicable’ mob who beat Kurdish asylum seeker

‘The Kurdish Iranian student is in intensive care with a fractured skull and a blood clot on his brain following the brutal assault. Sixteen people have been arrested in connection with the incident, on suspicion of offences including attempted murder and violent disorder. Police are also trying to trace the driver and occupants of a car that stopped at the scene during the midst of the attack. The vehicle is described as a white hatchback with a black roof. Theresa May branded those responsible “absolutely despicable” – as she vowed a zero tolerance to hate crime.’ – The Sun

Three million people have credit card debts they cannot repay

MANIFESTO money‘The watchdog’s dramatic intervention came after figures published by the Bank of England last week showed credit card debt rising at the fastest rate for 11 years amid a dangerous borrowing binge. Shoppers put another £562million on plastic last month, or £20million a day. Families now owe a record £67.3billion on cards – £2,500 a household. The Bank of England, which has been widely blamed for fuelling the borrowing binge with low interest rates, last week unveiled a major review of lending practices and warned that the scramble to borrow ever greater amounts of money was now a major risk to stability.’ – Daily Mail

Aid contractors are ‘ripping off’ the taxpayer

‘Unethical behaviour is “absolutely embedded” in the culture of foreign aid contractors employed by the government, according to MPs. Profiteering, overcharging and duplicity have been uncovered at businesses that receive millions of pounds in taxpayers’ money to implement aid projects overseas, it is claimed in a report published today. Whistleblowers agreed to give evidence in return for retaining their anonymity. MPs found that the rapid growth in the Department for International Development (Dfid) aid budget has made contracts too big to lose, encouraging sharp practice by those making bids….Contractors are charging the department more than twice the going market rate for staffing costs.’ – The Times (£)

  • Officials fail to make checks on firms receiving money – The Sun
  • Total incompetence – The Sun Says
  • How the NHS wastes £7.6 billion a year – Daily Mail
  • SNP accused of silencing unhappy NHS staff – The Scotsman
  • Schools hire fundraisers – FT

Labour and UKIP face a drubbing at the local elections

LABOUR holes‘Labour is set to shed 125 seats in next month’s local elections and faces losing control of Glasgow city council, a traditional stronghold, according to a new analysis. The Conservatives will also become the first majority government to gain council seats since the 1980s, according to research by the respected expert and pollster Robert Hayward. His study suggests that the local elections across England, Wales and Scotland in May will result in Ukip losing 80 to 90 seats and the Lib Dems gaining about 100 councillors. It estimates that the Tories will gain 100 seats, making inroads in English regions where Ukip performed well the last time the seats were up for election in 2013.’ – The Times (£)

Bomb kills 11 on St Petersburg underground

‘Nobody has claimed responsibility for the explosion, but previous attacks on Russia have been blamed on ISIS and Chechens. Dozens have been injured, including at least three children, as it was reported the man left a briefcase on a train before moving carriages moments before the deadly blast. Bloodied passengers were left strewn across the platform in the Russian city as emergency services scrambled to save those wounded by the bomb and the resulting shards of glass and twisted metal. St Petersburg resident Leonid Chaika, who said he was at the station where the blast happened, said: ‘I saw a lot of smoke, a crowd making its way to the escalators, people with blood and other people’s insides on their clothes, bloody faces. Many were crying.” – Daily Mail

  • A second bomb was found and defused – The Times (£)
  • Named suspect is from Kyrgyzstan – The Guardian
  • Teenage boys climb over barrier at Parliament – The Times (£)
  • Trump and Putin pledge to fight terrorism together – Daily Express
  • Poland says it has evidence Russia ‘deliberately’ caused crash that killed Polish president – Daily Mail
  • Putin ally rounds up 100 gay men in Chechnya – Daily Mail

Phillips: Universities are becoming instruments for the closing of young minds

BARRIE CHARACTER EDUCATION‘At Sussex university, a recent poster advertised a discussion on “dealing with right-wing attitudes and politics in the classroom”. According to the university, this referred to “extreme attitudes” such as racism, sexism and homophobia. So “right wing” was equated with views considered beyond the pale. Thus dissent is obliterated. On campus, a report by the Adam Smith Institute says, “left-liberals” outnumber conservatives by 75 per cent to 12 per cent. This is what Jonathan Haidt calls the “political purification of the universities”.’ – Melanie Phillips, The Times (£)

Ashcroft launches sepsis fundraising campaign

‘it is important, he says, to remember that ‘sepsis can strike anyone, at any age. I discovered this the hard way, which is why I am supporting the trust in the next stage of its campaign to draw attention to the danger of sepsis among adults. Quite simply, I don’t want what happened to me to happen to ­others and the importance of catching this little known but highly dangerous condition early cannot be overemphasised.’ Back in January, Lord Ashcroft tweeted the list of sepsis ­symptoms with an offer to give £1 to The UK Sepsis Trust, up to a total of £50,000, every time it was retweeted. The target was soon hit. Now he has offered to match every penny raised by the charity up to £250,000.’ – Daily Mail

>Today: Lord Ashcroft on Comment: My new campaign to save lives through greater sepsis awareness

News in Brief

  • Growing row about peers attending Syria conference – The Times (£)
  • Italy hopes to raise Caligula’s lost pleasure ship – Daily Telegraph
  • Trump and Kim could press the nuclear button – Max Hastings, Daily Mail
  • It’s the President’s chance to show he’s the ultimate deal-maker – William Hague, Daily Telegraph
  • Southern train drivers reject second peace deal – FT
  • Foster says first Stormont meeting was ‘constructive’ – Belfast Telegraph
  • Peers consider minimum alcohol pricing – The Guardian
  • Graphene filter makes seawater safe to drink – The Times (£)
  • Secret plan to blow up the Channel Tunnel if the Soviets invaded – The Sun
  • Korski launches firm to help companies bid for public sector contracts – Daily Mail